RAIPUR: In a major operation, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday (November 29) arrested Sumitra Punem, a dreaded Naxalite who was involved in an attack on Congress party leaders in Chhattisgarh's Darbha Valley on May 25, 2013.
A statement issued by the agency said, ''The NIA has arrested absconding accused Sumitra aka Sumitra Punem, a resident of Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district, who was involved in attacking a convoy of Congress leaders and workers in 2013.''
''The NIA identified her as Puspal, 'Dalam Commander' who was a team member of the Darbha Division Committee of the CPI (Maoist) formation in Chhattisgarh which "executed the attack on the Congress leaders," the statement said.
The case relates to the attack on a convoy of Congress leaders and workers by CPI (Maoist) on May 25, 2013, in the hilly areas of Darbha Valley in Sukma district of the state.
At least 26 people were killed in one of the worst Maoist attacks of that time.
Former state minister Mahendra Karma and Chhattisgarh Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel, his son and former legislator Uday Kumar Mudaliar were among the killed. Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Vidya Charan Shukla, who was seriously injured in the attack, succumbed to his injuries on June 11, 2013.
Notably, Karma was a local tribal leader, who spearheaded the controversial anti-Naxalite movement Salwa Judum. He had served as the state's home minister when the Congress was in power. He enjoyed Z-plus security, which meant that at least 30 policemen guarded him.
The NIA later chargesheeted absconding accused in the case which it took over in May 2013 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
A chargesheet was filed on September 25, 2014, followed by a supplementary chargesheet on September 28, 2019, against 39 accused.
Out of the 39, 10 were arrested, two were killed in encounters with security forces and 27 are absconding.
Efforts are underway to apprehend the other absconding accused in the case.